Thursday, April 2, 2009

A Masterfully Done Show

Thanks to the wonders of Netflix (in particular, the "Watch Instantly" feature), I have managed to see the entire first season of Masters of Horror finally. Herein lie my thoughts on each episode.

Please note that I watched the first 5 of these about 8 months before I saw the rest. So, early episodes are a little less clear in my mind. Just in case the reviews are not so good on those.

Also, for those who are interested, I have added a review of the latest Friday the 13th movie to the original post (found here. In short, I liked it, but needed more blood.

Incident On and Off a Mountain Road: This one was directed by Don Coscarelli, who is known best for his Phantasm movies (which are the subject of my next horror movie series of reviews). The movie is basically about a woman who is driving down a road on night, and the horrible events following. Throughout there are some flashbacks to parts of her life, where we learn about the crazy man she ended up marrying. These serve to explain her awesome survival instincts and skills. Overall, a fun movie to watch, since you see a woman who has some kick ass skills to fight back against the freak who is hunting her. The episode sets a nice tone and feel for the rest of the season. Horror movies of various forms, with a twist of some sort at the end. The twist in this one was not a huge shock, but was still good.

H. P. Lovecraft's Dreams in the Witch-House: Directed by Stuart Gordon, a man known for his HP Lovecraft movies. This takes place in a house where a physics student is staying while researching his thesis. His work research on intersecting planes, and how they may open portals to other dimensions, turns out to be more real than he would have thought. There is also this creepy rat with a human face in there. Mostly, an interesting story and some decent visuals. Having never read the original story this is "based on" (quotes used since most Stuart Gordon movies are not really based on as much as inspired by the stories), I can't tell you how accurate it is. Still, not bad.

Dance of the Dead: Tobe Hooper of Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame directed this one. Post apocalyptic setting where some chemical warfare has caused a lot of people to burn to death, coming back as zombies. There is this city called Muskeet which is apparently some haven for immoral people or something. Kind of a weak spot there. Anyhow, the idea is that this innocent girl in a small town is working in a diner. Her mom is super protective, becasue her sister and father are dead. Some bad guys come into town and take blood from people, for reasons later explained. They go to the diner, convince the girl to come with, and go to the city to watch zombies dance. Crazy, I know. The end was cool, since you find out the truth of what happened to the sister and why the mom's so protective. There's also a bit more explanation of a flashback from the beginning of the episode. Robert Englund is not a good actor.

Jenifer: This was directed by Dario Argento, one of the masters of Italian horror (Suspiria is one of his greater works). This movie is basically about a cop who saves a woman from being killed. Then falls in love with her. Then tries to kill her. There's a bit more to it than that, but this is the very brief plot synopsis. The woman in question is beautiful, until you look at her face. The face in question is pretty effed up. I can't really describe it, but lets just say that I wouldn't have had sex with her. The movie is a good look at obsession, as well as the lesson that no good deed goes unpunished. Pretty fun.

Chocolate: Directed by Mick Garris, who is the man behind the show in general and apparently has done a number of Stephen King adaptations. The episode is about a guy who keeps seeing, smelling, feeling, and tasting things from the point of view of another person. He then becomes obsessed with finding her, and starting a relationship. Which goes poorly, as she ends up trying to kill him. The entire thing was pretty interesting, and a little creepy if you think about what it must have felt like to be him. At one point, he says he knows what it feels like to die. That's some hardcore stuff there.

Homecoming: Joe Dante of Gremlins and The Howling fame directs. A right wing talking head makes a statement saying he wishes the dead soldiers cold come back long enough to tell everyone how proud they were to serve their country in the war. Then, exactly that happens. Except, they are not so happy about the dying in a war thing. Very funny episode, with zombies doing non-zombie things (like voting). Well done political commentary, with a twist. This episode angered me for how close to reality it was, while entertaining me for how close to reality it should be.

Deer Woman: Directed by John Landis (mostly comedies, but did American Werewolf in London as well as the Thriller music video). A trucker is trampled to death in the cab of his truck. So much that at first the police aren't even sure that the body was a human being. The detective who chooses to follow up is a loser relegated to the animal attacks stuff. He continues to investigate, and piss off his coworkers. The killer is a hot chick. Really really hot. Interesting legend they have in this one. No idea if it is a real legend or not, but I enjoyed the strangeness of it all.

Cigarette Burns: Directed by John Carpenter, of Halloween and The Thing. As a fan of this man's work, this was the episode I most wanted to see. Also, having read a plot synopsis, this was one right up my alley. I was disappointed, not because it was bad but because it was too short to properly do this idea justice. If you have seen In the Mouth of Madness (another of Carpenter''s movies) you pretty much know this story. In this varation, there is a man who is known for gettign hard to find movies for collectors. He is hired by a guy to get a copy of "La Fin Absolue du Monde," a movie that was screened once. The reason it was only screened the one time is because after the showing the entire audience went mad and killed each other.The only print was supposedly destroyed, but the collector claims otherwise. The man sent to find the movie starts digging around, traveling to Paris and some other places. Long story short, he finds the movie and starts going crazy int he process. In the end, everyone gets what the want. Also, there is an angel in this one. An angel with his wings cut off. It was pretty fucked up. I wish this was longer, because I love this idea so much and wanted more of it. I also wish that "La Fin Absolue du Monde" was a real movie. I kind of want to see it, consequences be damned.

Fair Haired Child: Directed by William Malone (who did the remake of House on Haunted Hill and FeardotCom). Not much to say here. Girl who is an outcast at school for reasons that are never really explained is kidnapped. She wakes up in a hospital, her mom cares not. Then she is tossed in a basement and tormented by a demon. The reason for the demon is ok, and the twist at the end is kind of fun. Really, though, this was a fairly forgettable episode. Sad, since the majority of this series has been good. Demon wasn't even all that interesting or creepy to look at.

Sick Girl: Directed by Lucky McKee (who did a movie called May, which I never heard of but have added to my netflix). Basically, with this one you have a scientist who studies insects, and has a few as pets, who falls in love with another woman. There is some big, angry, aggressive bug involved that impregnates others by biting them or something. Really, nothing too deep or impressive. You get awkward science lady, cute artist chick, pervy scientist dude, uptight landlady bitch. Lesbian sex scenes, though very tame. One of the stars was an actress who seems to work primarily with this director, which would explain a lot since she wasn't very good. The other main actress was Misty Mundae (now going my her real name Erin Brown). She's adorable when she is actually acting well. Unfortunately, they don't let her stay adorable and shy, instead making her overact as a bitch instead. Wow, is she bad in those scenes. I was a fan of hers from her crappy sexpolitation horror movies. So, it was a treat seeing her try to do something a bit more legitimate. Even if it was a failure.

Pick Me Up: Fairuza Balk is hot. Just want to get that out there early. Michael Moriarty is normally a better actor than this. Those out of the way, I liked the premise of this a lot. Bus of tourists breaks down in the middle of nowhere. One walks off on her own. Half of the remainder stay with the bus, half take a ride with a trucker who happens by. All of them die. The trucker is a serial killer called Wheeler. He kills people who hitchhike. There is another killer called Walker. He hitchhikes and kills people who pick him up. The two meet, and fight over Fairuza Balk's character. Then there is the twist, which I won't give away. Just leave it with, I wasn't expecting that particular twist. Well played, guys.

Haeckel's Tale: John McNaughton directs this. He is known for Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer. This story was apparently based on a Clive Barker short story. We have some guy who goes to a witch to get his dead lover returned to life. Then a flashback to a pseudo-Frankenstein story that turns into zombie porn. Then back to the original story for the twist ending. Not too bad. There were some bits that seemed to have no real bearing on the rest of the story, but it was a fun episode. Not really horror or scary all that much. Also, Elise is really attractive, even with her...issues.

Imprint: Directed by Takashi Miike, who did Audition and Ichi the Killer. This episode itself is famous for being to shocking for Showtime. Which, really, says a lot about how graphic this movie was. If a premium movie network won't air it, you know you have found the line and crossed it. Then you probably pissed on it and laughed. So, right, This is about an American who is looking for the prostitute he fell in love with in Japan. He arrives on an island of whores, but she isn't there. He takes one of the prostitutes for the night, who happens to be pretty strange (half her face is deformed and she is a bit crazy). This woman tells him the story of what happened to the woman he loved, as well as her history. But she lies. So she tells it again, and another time. The stories she tells are pretty fucked up. Abortions and hangings and needles in places that should not have needles. I cringed, which is saying a lot since i only ever cringe at guys getting hit in the nuts. There were no nut shots in this, so yeah. To be honest, I am not 100% sure I know what happened in this one. At least there was some crazy gore, though, right? Right?

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